Summary: We are called to walk in a way that is consistent with our calling as God’s holy ones (#10 in the Unfathomable Love of Christ series)
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called”
As we move through this epistle we come to a slight bend in the road. As we travel along it, the farther we go the more likely we will be to lose sight of what came before and forget that it is, nevertheless, the same road, and what came before brought us to where we are now.
Paul makes his transition with the word ‘therefore’, and so I will be faithful to point you back to the previous chapters and say ‘look once more before we pass on’. Go all the way back in your mind and remember that he taught us that the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”.
Be reminded that “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” And remember that this is what He had declared and now reckons us to be, in His Son; holy and blameless.
Rejoice once more that He has predestined us to adoption as sons through Christ to Himself and to the praise of His glory. Remember the mighty deeds He has wrought in putting an end to the enmity between men and men and men and God, and by His Holy Spirit, ushered us into the very Throne room of heaven to stand as family before Holy God.
And then once more be reminded that the things Paul has prayed for us at the end of chapter three are things that can only be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit, but that power is the same that raised Christ Jesus from the dead, and does indeed work in us to accomplish those things. To strengthen the inner man, to let us comprehend the infinite and unfathomable love of Christ and to be filled up to all the fulness of God.
These are the things He has made us and reckons us to be, believer, and you must keep this in mind as we study verse 1 of chapter 4, or you will miss the point completely.
Notice first, that one more time he refers to himself as ‘the prisoner of the Lord’. And I have to mention it, because it serves a different purpose this time than before. Paul is not just continually bringing up his circumstances to incite sympathy for himself.
Previously, he wanted to give them assurance that he saw himself as being in the center of God’s will, and that they should not fret or sorrow for him; and also that even in his circumstances he was still a minister of Jesus Christ and continuing in the work of the Kingdom.
But here his purpose is slightly different. He is about to exhort them in their Christian walk, and in reminding them of where he is at the outset, he is effectively removing from them in advance any ability to point to their own physical circumstances as an excuse to walk any other way.
“But I live with a nagging mother in law” “Yeah? Well I’m in prison”
“But I have rebellious teenaged children” “Yeah? Well I’m chained to a Roman soldier who hasn’t ever heard of deodorant”
“But I have a struggle with debt that occupies me constantly.” “Well, I’ve learned to be abased and to abound, and right now I’m definitely abased; but I’m walking the walk.”
It’s just kind of hard to excuse yourself to someone who is in much worse circumstances than your own, yet continuing successfully in what he’s challenging you to do.
For example, if someone with his leg chopped off at the knee and using a crutch says to you “Walk five miles with me”, you might simply refuse to go because you don’t want to go, but you won’t be likely to cite a sore pinky toe as your reason for refusing.
So he says, “I…entreat you…” , that word ‘entreat’ meaning to ‘appeal to’…
“I appeal to you…” and he is justified in doing so, in that he is walking the road before them and is not calling them to anyplace he has not traveled.
“Look at your back trail! Get another good look at the things we’ve encountered so far, and then take this bend with me and see what comes next as integral to what was before.”
Now there are two key words in this verse that must be studied carefully for the understanding of all that comes afterward. They are ‘worthy’, and ‘calling’.
So that’s where we will stay today.
Now I suspect that unless deliberate thought is given to it, most of us these days would read past that word ‘worthy’ and go on with the sense that it means the same as ‘deserving’. And I guess that does come in to a degree.